Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"BUENA VISTA" OLD GREENWICH, CT

     “Buena Vista” - GOOD VIEW

WE present “Buena Vista”, residence belonging to E. Hope Norton, Esq., of New York, also built by Mr. Sawyer, and designed by E. E. Holman, architect, 1020 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 

A SPANISH RESIDENCE AT "HILLCREST MANOR", STAMFORD, CONN.
Sawyer built "Buena Vista" as his home, before developing the surrounding land into Hillcrest Manor, a private community of 16 homes, eight that still exists. He sold the homes for $10,000 up to $100,000 -- about $2.5 million in today's dollars.

   ***This palatial Italianate villa was designed in 1900 so that the view from the towers would be reminiscent of a Mediterranean village. In the 1890’s, the area known today as Hillcrest Manor was developed by Joseph Dillaway Sawyer, who was noted for his large and exotic houses. With its roof of red tile, it stretches a full city block with its length of 228 feet, and was built to fit the contour of the ground. The park-like property extends over 9.72 acres and is comprised of rolling lawns and old trees. “The Towers”, as it was also called, was once one of the show places of Greenwich. A winding drive bordered by beautiful blue spruce leads to this Moorish castle. Guests at one time were welcomed thru a porte-cochère up the broad stairway and into its hospitable halls. Today, the mansion is in disrepair and is being offered primarily for its land value. This property is on the market for the first time since 1957.*** 


   For more than a half-century, the house was home to Laura Grey Morgan, along with her husband, J. Robert Morgan, until his death in 1988. With no massive renovations or updating, much of the house has fallen into disrepair. The listing agent is only opening five of the home's 38 rooms to visitors due to concerns about safety.



"BUENA VISTA", A  RESIDENCE AT  HILLCREST MANOR, CREENWICH, CONN.
MRS. E. E. HOLMAN, ACHTECT.
   
  "Here is shown 'Buena Vista', which, with its length of 228 feet, stretches a full city block. It is built to fit the contour of the ground. When I first bought the farm and named it Hillcrest, I walked out on these ledges and planned to sometime tie the lichen-covered stone outcroppings together with a Moorish castle. After years of waiting and a score of months of continuous labor the castle, with stucco sides, and roof and towers of tile, at last crowned the hill, welcoming guests and owner through archway, up the broad stairway, and into its hospitable halls. Extravagance in paneled wainscot and beamed ceiling ran riot, as in leaded lights, arch-windowed turrets, and the copper-flashed, tiled roof, viewed from the lookout of which "Buena Vista" seemed like a miniature city." Joseph Dillaway Sawyer


FIRST FLOOR PLAN
   

  Boasting stone fireplaces intricately designed with carved lions and family crests, elaborate chandeliers hanging from the 10 1/2 foot ceilings and stained-glass windows flooding the stairways with sunbeams.


SECOND FLOOR PLAN


  “Buena Vista" is a dwelling treated in the Spanish and the Italian style of architecture, with the attractive picturesqueness of the East, combined with the best that the modern civilization of the West can furnish, and is. as all good architecture should be, a color creation as well as a form creation. Its extensive roof, of bright red Spanish tile, its Portland cement sides meeting the green turf and lichen-covered ledge, its buff colored brick corners, trimmings, and chimneys, its turrets, arches, and balconies, and its quaint windows, form a color scheme that harmonizes attractively with rocks, trees, shrubs, and sky. The house was built to conform to the site, and to the beholder has the rare quality usually so foreign to a new house of antiquity, instead of the garish newness naturally belonging to its brief existence. "Buena Vista" was only a complete possibility on account of its location, in the center of ten acres, some thirty or more feet above the King’s Highway and about 700 feet distant, it being literally perched on a rocky cliff following the gradual fall of the ground, until it covers in length about 230 feet. 


"BUENA VISTA", A  RESIDENCE AT  HILLCREST MANOR, CREENWICH, CONN.
MRS. E. E. HOLMAN, ACHTECT.
The home, which was built as an extension of the ground's contours, is a symbol of Greenwich's opulent past.

SOUTH AND WEST FRONT.

SOUTH AND WEST FRONT.

SOUTH AND WEST FRONT.

SOUTH AND WEST FRONT.

SOUTH AND WEST FRONT - TODAY.

   The house has four entrances, one is approached by a narrow walk leading over the ledge to the Spanish arched entrance and wide veranda that overlook valley and Sound. Another very effective entrance is from the garden side, up a massive flight of some fifty artificial stone steps to the veranda leading to billiard-room and den. The main entrance is from the “carriage porch,” through an arched passageway intended as a palm gallery. The staircase hall is finished in quartered oak, as is also the staircase, with its carved newels and paneled soffits. This hall is provided with stained glass harmonizing in color and design with the style of architecture. The main windows throughout the house are plate glass, and the upper sashes are leaded in artistic designs. The window and tower plan, as shown in the illustrations, will bear close scrutiny in the varied design of casement, belvedere, arch, and curve, which give variety and uniqueness to the whole. 

   "In Buena Vista were picture windows so large and heavy that they could not be conveniently opened, a remembered lesson to me. When I again tackled 8x8 foot picture windows they swung on pivots inserted in top and bottom or on either side. Fortunately, windows were so numerous in Buena Vista that stagnant air was unknown." Joseph Dillaway Sawyer


"BUENA VISTA", A  RESIDENCE AT  HILLCREST MANOR, CREENWICH, CONN.
MRS. E. E. HOLMAN, ACHTECT.

SOUTH AND EAST FRONT.

SOUTH AND EAST FRONT.


SOUTH AND EAST FRONT - TODAY.

THE NORTH FRONT.

THE NORTH FRONT.

THE EAST FRONT - TODAY.

THE NORTH FRONT - TODAY.

THE NORTH AND EAST FRONT.

THE BLOCK-LONG TILE ROOF.
  
 "I believe that Tennyson, with his love for tile, as against 'slated ugliness', would have appreciated that roof, though it will be decades before it takes on its northern slope the moss-grown shades that pleased the poet. One can, of course, use tile in much less glaring colors, and in so doing span a century." Joseph Dillaway Sawyer

SIDE VIEW OF THE EAST FRONT - TODAY.

  
   From the entrance hall at the left is the reception-room, finished in gold leaf and enamel-white woodwork, with pink walls; the hardware of this room is gold plated. The great hall is 20x30 feet, finished in quartered oak, with high wainscot, beamed ceiling, and mantel; the hardware is oxidized silver, which, in connection with regular bronze, is used through the remainder of of the house. The dining-room, 25x25, is wainscoted and finished in flat oak, with two elaborate curved front glass and china buffets, connected by a broad oak settle, constructed to harmonize with the woodwork. A butler's pantry, with lift, adjoins it, and is wainscoted in pine, natural finish. The library is 25x25, is finished in mahogany, and furnished with a series of observation windows. This room connects with billiard alcove, which has settles and broad windows leading to north balcony. The billiard-room, 18x23, is a charming apartment, the trim a sen green***greenish-gold***, with vivid red walls of Japanese grass, open fireplace, large picture window, and veranda; the outside staircase leads directly from this room. The bachelors’ suite, including the den with its cozy fireplace, tiled bathroom with shower, and four bedrooms complete the main floor. All the servants' quarters are on the floor below this; they consist of four large bedrooms, and bath, laundry, kitchen serving pantry with sink, kitchen, servants’ hall, and servants’ veranda, wine closets, housekeeper's rooms, boiler room, and cellar. And still below this floor are two large rooms for the men servants, with toilet; and below this again ample cellar and storage room is made possible by the steep fall of the ledge on which the house is built. The third story contains the family bedrooms, two baths, a nursery, a conservatory balcony, and a large linen closet, with windows for ventilation, shelved and drawered to suit the most particular housekeeper. The fourth story contains the main tower, lookout room, an open tower balcony, and three large rooms. There are separate flights leading to the different towers, four in number, from all of which, as well as from veranda and windows, are extensive views of valley, hill, and Sound. The finish and decoration of “Buenu Vista” are the best.


THE HALL IN "BUENA VISTA".
"Hardware in the reception room was gold plated ; this was not extravagant and never needed polishing."
Joseph Dillaway Sawyer
   
   The main rooms of first and second stories have hardwood floors of quartered oak or selected maple. Closets and presses have been built wherever possible, and the first floor contains settles in every available place; elaborate wooden coves to match the woodwork are built in the main rooms on the first floor; the bedrooms are hung with the latest designs in suitable cloth decorations. "Buena Vista," within and without, contains the best that the modern artisan can evolve for the comfort and satisfaction of its occupants. It is completely wired for electricity, has an extensive gas plant that lights every portion of the building, stable, and verandas; it has speaking tubes and electric bells, and a steam plant that heats the entire building; the water supply is ample, both in house and stable, and every prominent room in the house is provided with an open fireplace and mantel. The stable is complete in its arrangement and sanitation, three stalls and two box stalls, horse trough, harness closet, etc., two hay lofts, a coachman’s room; stable is finished in hard pine shellacked. As an indication of the size of "Buena Vista," it is 230 feet long, contains seventeen different flights of stairs, and 160 windows. Even considering its size, it is so arranged that certain rooms or wings can be closed and the house brought down to the requirements of a moderate sized family.

ENTRANCE.

WINDING DRIVE - TODAY.

  The main road through the property, nearly a mile in extent, is bordered almost its entire length with the Arboretum, which contains over one thousand varieties of hardy shrubs, trees, and plants.

Sawyer planted hundreds of trees, shrubs and flowers.

STABLES.
 
     Joseph Dillaway Sawyer was a salesman for his father's dry goods commission business and for others in the same field, commuting regularly from New York to Boston. Sawyer purchased the 78-acre farm of Sabina Bowen, widow of William Bowen, in Old Greenwich, on July 31, 1886. He renamed his country property, for which he paid $8,500, "Hillcrest Farm".  

STABLES

   The income from the sale of the milk produced by his 40 Dutch belted cows averaged $450 monthly. He boarded horses and raised Angora goats, Merino sheep, Black Berkshire and White Yorkshire pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, carrier pigeons, bees, rabbits and a peacock for decor. He also cultivated the potato and hay fields. In his spare time, Sawyer also wrote a two-volume biography of George Washington, "The Pilgrim Spirit", and "History of the Pilgrims and Puritans".


THE ORIGINAL "HILLCREST FARM".
    
AFTER MODERNIZATION.
Later renamed "Hillcrest Homestead" when Sawyer turned to land development.

At one time Sawyer owned 250 acres of land in Greenwich and by 1911 had built some 30 substantial residences, most of them to his own designs, in this area and along  the shoreline of Long Island Sound. After 20 years of farming, the Sawyers moved the farmhouse(by oxen), making room for "Buena Vista".  Sawyer turned to real estate development, seeing a potential in building large summer homes for New Yorkers.  Sawyer had subdivision in mind. He partnered with Evermont Hope Norton, a Wall Street broker and railroad executive to develop "Hillcrest Manor". They later were to develop the Tokeneke Association, a secluded residential neighborhood on the Darien shore, where some of the most beautiful real estate on Fairfield County's Gold Coast can be found.

It appears Norton took over Sawyer's first build when they joined as partners and Sawyer went on to build another home.

"HILLCREST MANOR"
It is an ideal location for a settlement, and upon it Mr. Sawyer has constructed a series of artistic houses, built in different styles, which harmonize with the surroundings.


"HILLCREST HOMESTEAD"
ITS FINAL RESTING PLACE.

 Sawyer's family had been in America since at least the time of the Revolution. Sawyer's great-grandfather, William Dillaway, fought at Bunker Hill and Sawyer himself claimed to be a descendant of Massachusetts Gov. John Winthrop 


"BUENA VISTA" - A SPANISH VILIA, NEAR STAMFORD, CONN.
Designed by Mrs. E. E. Holman. 


    THE AMERICAN MAGAZINE  Mrs. Emily Elizabeth Holman, of Chestnut street, Philadelphia, occupies rather a unique position among architects. She has designed pretty nearly everything except office buildings—theatres, hotels, stores, and city and suburban residences. She has won a wide reputation for quaint and unusual Summer cottages, which have the merit of being convenient and comfortable, as well as cheap.

  Few of those who do business with "E. E. Holman, Architect", suspect that these initials stand for a woman who has practiced her profession for eight years and whose houses are in every State of the Union, except Mississippi, including, too, Summer houses in Canada and only recently a house built in Jamaica, British West Indies, the material for which was mill-made in this country and shipped there. 

    But the work which Mrs. Holman considers her best is "Buena Vista", a villa in the Spanish style built upon a hill near Stamford, Connecticut. It is a striking instance of the possibility of making a house "climb gracefully down-hill." There is a drop of from twenty to fifty feet between its two ends and quite a drop at the porte cochere. This is built low, and stairs inside go up between arches filled with glass, which form a palm house. The front and main side entrances have curiously carved doors, modelled somewhat on those of Spanish churches. There is a large entrance hall with a stair tower and a reception room opening from this hall, all of which are Moorish in decoration. The living hall is an immense room panelled in white, to increase its apparent size, and with two large windows filling all of the north end, except that portion occupied by the fire-place, and commanding a most magnificent view. The long corridor, with outside balcony leading to the curved stair, has below it a billiard room and a smoking "den" back of that. The communication between library and billiard room is made through an artistic lobby with descending steps. From the billiard room, stairs go up to the tower, which like all the others affords a splendid view of the surrounding country. This is a magnificent house, on a commanding site, and Mrs. Holman is prouder of it than of any other of her designs.



  
    Early in its history "Hillcrest Manor" had a number of multi-acre estates, each lavished with a mansion and several outbuildings, from guest cottages to servants' quarters.  Today, Hillcrest Park is a 69-family private association, run by volunteers.

wikimapia

BING

historicaerials 1934

Additional photos can be found HERE.

4 comments:

  1. Sadly this structure has been demolished - http://greenwichlandmarks.org/269-palmer-hill-road/

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  2. I have to say, I don't usually comment on homes on this site, but I have to say this is one ugly home. Sorry, just my opinion.

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  3. pretty sad to see two sad comments... one that its dead, the other that someone hated it

    i love it

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  4. so i just went to that site... which is 'how to tear down a country place' and its really a bummer....
    i dont know the reasons they tore it down but it was really a pretty place...
    could it be the price of the land... $6 million did i see?

    ReplyDelete